What has happened to our nation?

To the editor:

I remember in the early 1960s when we were the greatest nation and leader of the free world. We were starting to build our infrastructure with the interstate highway system and had the best health care system with affordable insurance that covered all our medical needs. Other nations sent their people here for the best training you could get.

I had a son born in France in 1961 in a French clinic. Free socialized clinics for all French citizens. France was a Third World country back then, and we made four times what they made in factories.

Around 2000, the World Health Organization did a study of all industrial nations and France was rated the No. 1 nation with the best health care with the least cost. Our great nation was rated No. 37 with the highest cost and least care. I remember Reaganomics era when one of my sons went to the bank to get a loan to buy his second car. It would have only cost him at 28 percent interest rate with a co-signer. He had already paid for one car. I was salaried at our company and had the best benefits you could have. Best medical coverage you could get with the same benefits on retirement.

But starting in the late 1970s, things started to change. The companies started taking away the benefits, and we had to start paying for some of the medical benefits. Matter of fact, if you retired after December 1984, even the medical benefits you had been promised were gone, and you had to pay for them. Unions and benefits all across the country started disappearing.

Before Ronald Reagan got into office, I understood the CEOs salary was 35 to 45 times the employees. Now in 2008, there was a man who volunteered and worked every day for a year without a day off, including holidays and made $100,000. Someone called me and asked me why the union was striking with the economy so bad and no jobs out there. My answer was this man could give up his life and friends for 200 years, without a day off, and make $20 million like our CEO did last year. I remember the rich got the big tax cuts. Of course Black Monday followed in 1987 when our economy and stock market were in crisis mode and about to go under.

Didn’t George W. Bush give another tax cut, and we were also in a depression when Obama took over? We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now I look at this last tax cut that has been passed for the rich and large corporations. I hate to think where we might be after the next election.

Now I lived down South for eight years, and I noticed that the politics were against any minimum wage increase, health care and education. Also wanted smaller government. So they put more people on food stamps and, of course, had to have more people to run the program.

We have a history of slavery in this great nation. Well, look around and you will see that we still have slaves. When these minimum wage people (regardless of race or color) are working two or three jobs just to take care of their families … they are slaves. For years, I have heard that minimum wage increases would drive up unemployment. This has been used as a justification for not raising the wages. Now let’s put a little common sense on this. These people are not going to put that extra money into the stock market, they would spend it to buy things that they haven’t been able to afford. Now who would build these products, factories? Of course these employees would be working and paying taxes. Why not pay employees a livable wage and let them be self-supporting. Plus maybe have some training programs to help the unskilled be able to take some jobs. I understand there will always be unskilled workers for some jobs, but it is so out of balance, and we have some people staying at home and making more than some people that are working. They system can be changed. Didn’t Bill Clinton bring the welfare system down, working with the Republicans?

A.L. FINNEY

Providence, N.C.

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